Being a projectionist at Ragtag Cinema means watching movies. A lot of movies. It was the perfect job for Emma Fristoe, a camera person who has seen Little Women four times (and calls it a “crime against humanity” that Greta Gerwig wasn’t nominated for the Oscar for Best Director), studied film at Stephens College and has worked as a projectionist for about a year. Whether she’s gone to the theater on her own, watched movies as part of her job or seen them at Ragtag’s weekly staff screenings, Fristoe has seen all but two of the films nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. We asked her about her picks and recommendations before the big ceremony on Feb. 9.
You’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees except The Irishman and Ford v. Ferrari. What would be your pick to win?
I think what will probably win is Joker. Whatever, fine. It was a good movie, I get it. But 1917 I just saw and I thought it was incredible. And I hate war movies. I walked into it trying to see all the nominations. I didn't think I would like it at all, and I loved it. Parasite I think should win everything. Just so, so, so good. Jojo Rabbit I don't think will win, but I thought it was also just a really interesting take on a war movie, and Taikia Waititi is one of my favorite directors of all time. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood could also probably win. I wouldn't be surprised if that won or Joker won, but personally, I liked 1917 and Parasite way better.
What about 1917 did you like so much?
The way they did it technically. A lot of people didn't love this about it, it watches like a video game. It's supposed to look like it's all done in one shot. I’m a camera person, so I love that kind of junk. The long takes and the cinematography and the story being so personal — I've never really seen a war movie like that. Not that I watch a lot of them, but I've seen the big hitters like Full Metal Jacket and Saving Private Ryan and all that. Mostly just the filming of it and the way that they took the story from place to place without really noticeably changing cuts I thought was incredible.
What about films nominated in other categories?
There's a documentary Honeyland that I really liked that was nominated for Best International Feature Film. I think it was the first documentary ever to be nominated for that. It's about this really old woman who lives in the hills of Macedonia in a really rural area and she's been a beekeeper for, like, 50 years. It sounds not interesting, but I swear it’s cool. There's this new family that moves in next to her that totally doesn't want to practice by-the-book or ethically- or environmentally-conscious, and that causes some issues. So it's basically all about that, kind of comparing the two. It's a lot more storied than regular documentaries, which is why I liked it, I think. Pain and Glory was really good too. That one was Antonio Banderas grappling with heroin addiction. It's not a light-hearted film by any means, but he was really good. He's nominated for Best Actor for that one.
The Oscars are in one week. If someone is behind on their movie-watching but only has time to watch one nominated film, which one would you tell them to watch?
Parasite. Hands down, Parasite. It's so incredible, and I think people are really hesitant to watch foreign language films, especially if you're in your own home. You might be distracted, doing other things, not wanting to read. I'm totally guilty of that, but it's just so, so, so well done. It's really worth seeing. Even if they can't see it beforehand, see it after. It's not unknown that the Oscars tend to choose very certain demographics, so I think if people are going to watch something, broaden your horizons and see that one.